- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Potomac shuffle?

Bush spokesman Scott McClellan yesterday wouldn’t bite when reporters asked him whether there is a coming staff shakeup at the White House — and neither did his boss.

A reporter asked the spokesman during the daily briefing: “The president this morning made it sound almost inevitable that there will be more changes once [OMB Director Joshua B.] Bolten comes on board” to replace outgoing Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. “Obviously, you’re not going to talk about what those are.”

“But you’ll ask anyway,” Mr. McClellan said with a smile.

The reporter asked, and, obviously, the spokesman didn’t speak.

President Bush took the same tack when he was asked a question about another top administration official who, many speculate, may soon resign — John W. Snow, secretary of the Treasury.

Asked in the Roosevelt Room whether he expected Mr. Snow to “stay on,” Mr. Bush said “I’m glad you brought him up. He has been a valuable member of my administration, and I trust his judgment and appreciate his service.”

End of answer. Stay tuned.

Feingold’s stance

Sen. Russell D. Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, has come out in favor of homosexual “marriage.”

Mr. Feingold, who is expected to seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2008, expressed support for homosexual “marriage” for the first time at a town-hall meeting in Kenosha County, Wis., last weekend, his office said yesterday.

Mr. Feingold opposes both the proposed federal constitutional amendment barring homosexual “marriage” and a similar amendment that will be placed before Wisconsin voters on a statewide ballot in November.

“As I said at the Kenosha County listening session, gay and lesbian couples should be able to marry and have access to the same rights, privileges and benefits that straight couples currently enjoy,” Mr. Feingold said.

“Denying people this basic American right is the kind of discrimination that has no place in our laws, especially in a progressive state like Wisconsin. The time has come to end this discrimination and the politics of divisiveness that has become part of this issue.”

Living with Bernie

Barack Obama, who has become a U.S. senator, millionaire, best-selling author, and Grammy Award winner in just the last year, came to Vermont the other day for what the Burlington Free Press described as a ‘rock-star-like appearance.’ While he did not walk on water, Obama did draw a crowd too large for the hall where he was scheduled to speak in support of the Senate bid of Congressman Bernard Sanders,” Geoffrey Norman writes in National Review.

“Sanders is running to succeed the retiring James Jeffords, who, of course, left the Republicans in May 2001, costing the party control of the Senate. Jeffords got his picture on the covers of the big newsmagazines and wrote a book about his conscience, but he did not go over to the other party. While he voted reliably with the Democrats, he fastidiously maintained that he was an Independent,” Mr. Norman said.

“Sanders, too, is an Independent — they are one thing that does grow well in Vermont’s poor soil — but he didn’t have to quit one of the major parties to get there. Throughout his long political career, Sanders has consistently and stridently argued that the two major parties neglect the interests and needs of ‘working Americans’ and favor plutocrats whose money keeps them in power. Sanders and his supporters refer, disdainfully, to the ‘Demicans and Republicrats’ — shades of George Wallace in 1968, including the wounded pugnacity.

“But if Sanders is down on the Democrats, one wonders why the party’s biggest star would come here to stump for him. Don’t the Democrats have a dog in this fight? Well, actually, no; Vermont’s Democratic Party is not running a candidate for the Senate and has endorsed Sanders. So, for that matter, has the national Democratic Party, whose chairman, Howard Dean, tried mightily, when he was governor of Vermont, to keep Sanders out of Congress, campaigning hard for his opponents.

“Evidently, the Democrats have decided that they can’t beat Sanders, but — since he has voted with them on the big issues — they can live with him. Obama’s visit, then, is just a routine political stop to raise a little money and dispense a little glitter for the party’s sanctioned candidate, right?

“Could be. But it might also be that Obama and the Democrats need Sanders more than he needs them.”

Ad rejected

A liberal activist group’s $1.3 million ad campaign criticizing four Republican House members for voting in support of “energy and big oil companies” has been rejected by NBC stations in Columbus, Ohio, and Hartford, Conn.

The ads paid for by MoveOn.org contend that the four GOP lawmakers — Reps. Chris Chocola in Indiana’s 2nd District, Thelma Drake in Virginia’s 2nd District, Nancy L. Johnson in Connecticut’s 5th District and Deborah Pryce in Ohio’s 15th District — are taking money from oil and energy companies and then supporting laws that reward those companies.

Even though two stations rejected them, the ads are being aired by other stations in all four markets, the Associated Press reports. The 30-second spots running for 10 days accuse the lawmakers of taking money and then voting against bills that would penalize oil companies for price gouging.

Jean Nemet, a spokeswoman for WCMH in Columbus, said local stations are responsible for the content of ads paid for by third parties, and not the campaign. WCMH executives consulted with their attorneys before deciding not to run the ad, she said.

MoveOn Executive Director Eli Pariser said the stations “are claiming the ads are misleading without saying what is misleading about them.”

Oliver Stone’s lament

Moviemaker Oliver Stone has accused the media of slandering politically active celebrities such as himself, according to the Web site contactmusic.com.

“We’re Hollywood wackos and all that stuff, left-wing,” Mr. Stone said, calling it “an easy and facile dismissal.”

“I’m still a citizen, I’ve served my country as a veteran, I’ve had many jobs before the film business. I know something of life, having lived to this age,” he said.

“We have a right to speak and every time we speak: ‘You’re an actor, a show business director,’ we’re making it up.

“This is not a way of dealing with people. This is slander.”

When it rains …

Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney spent money from her congressional office budget to fly singer Isaac Hayes to Georgia last year to headline a political fundraiser for her, Cox News Service reports.

Mrs. McKinney’s office Monday said it made a mistake by paying $500 for Mr. Hayes’ airfare and $400 for his accommodations from her $1 million congressional office budget, which is funded by federal tax dollars.

“It’s actually breaking the law,” Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told Cox.

“It’s breaking House rules, which prevent a member from using travel funds for anything but their own travel,” she said. “And it breaks Federal Election Commission law, which requires that campaign funds be used for campaign expenses.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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